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  • MVI's- What are they, and how can they help?

    Minimal Viable Interventions, or MVI's, are the tiny little inconveniences that can lead to elevated mood and increased opportunities for happiness in your life. In areas of positive psychology, research is showing that it's the little things that matter the most in terms of optimizing overall wellbeing. Human beings can have a tendency to get stuck in paths of least resistance. In other words, we're a leeeetle bit lazy sometimes...and that can make big changes to lifestyle seem unattainable. That's where MVI's come in! These are baby steps that lead to big goals overtime. They are easy. They are small. They are doable. These little bitty interventions can completely overhaul your life in a big way, and like any habit, the more you do it, the more ingrained it becomes. How to start depends upon your needs, but there are several little suggestions that can affect your mental and physical wellbeing right away. Allow yourself a moment of relaxation at the top of each hour. Close your eyes and focus on releasing your exhale all the way to the bottom of your lungs. Hold the emptiness for a moment. Allow your exhale to deliciously fill your lungs. Appreciate the abundance of breath for a moment. Let it go. Take regular sips of water throughout the day. Most of us live in an existence of dehydration, and these little sips add up. A hydrated body has more supple muscles, which can prevent injury. A hydrated mind is less fatigued leading to more energy. Think of three things you are grateful for, every day. Think of three things you are looking forward to, every week. Do five minutes of stretching or basic yoga postures every day. Do 60 seconds of something active three times a day (run in place, burpees, leg lifts, a few sit ups, arm circles, dancing or wiggling.) Make it light. Make it fun. Make it regular. Consider writing about joyful things you have experienced in your life for two minutes without judging what you write. Set a timer, and just write. Why? Because when we focus on positive events, our brain starts to home in on the good things in our lives and that changes our outlook on life into a positive direction. Remember, MVI's are the tiniest little intervals of effort. They may seem insignificant at first, but over time, they pack a punch! Try it out and see where your path with MVI's can lead.

  • SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder

    It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But, if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, it's time to ask for support. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you are turning to substances or alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or are experiencing suicidal ideation. Please, take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. SAD can get worse and may lead to problems, such as social withdrawal, inability to function in day-to-day life, substance misuse, eating disorders, increased anxiety and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, if not treated. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include: * Having low energy and feeling sluggish * Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed * Feeling listless, sad or down most of the day, nearly every day * Oversleeping * Carb cravings, overeating, weight gain (Please note: this is very normal for Montana bears and other animals who hibernate. Human's do not hibernate, so this can be problematic.) *Difficulty concentrating *Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty Please check with your primary care provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and be aware that Montanans are at high risk for SAD due to our proximity to the Northern Hemisphere. Most of us do not get enough natural sunlight to produce enough vitamin D, and this can affect our risk of developing SAD. If you or someone you love are experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation, please contact the Suicide Hotline at 9-8-8. A trained and caring professional is standing by to support you 24-7 and will be able to ensure you are given access to the help you need. Remember: You are NOT alone. You are needed. You are wanted. You matter. If you start to fall, we've got you! It's the Western way.

  • Western: A place heroes call home

    As we enter the last month of 2023, there is richness to be found in our journey around the sun. This has been an eventful year for so many. As a community, there are those of use who have endured hardship. Loss. Grief. Heartbreak. We have walked up craggy mountain paths and delved deeply into misty valleys. We have celebrated rainbows and shooting stars. Said goodbye to friends, loved ones, family. We have found reasons to reach for new light and found laughter that resonates high into the heavens. We have known the need for endurance. Strength. Grit. We have found HARD for stability, clarity and wellbeing. And, above all, we have done these things together. Side by side. Surrounded by others who value a common goal. A Montana goal. To care for others with the highest integrity we can find in our bones. When Montanans come upon hard times, we don't flinch. We are problem solvers! At Western, the call to arms is in the care we offer our community members in need. Tenacious and flexible, our skilled teams rise to the tasks ahead with sleeves rolled up, ready to lift those around us. The need is high. The mission is clear. And, frankly, our teams are exceptional at what they do. Western is home to Montana heroes. They may not wear capes (we'll leave that to the kiddos!), but you can be sure their superpowers lay in the realm of healing body, soul, and mind. We're here for you. That's the Western way!

  • Reaching for Peace

    In uncertain times, many of us experience stress. However, we can't live in a state of spiked cortisol without consequences. Learning to calm our nervous systems may begin with understanding what we can control vs. what we cannot control. When we can wrap our heads around what is within our reach, personal empowerment is soon to follow. Let's start with what we cannot control, just to get that out in the open. These are the things that do not change with our personal effort. These are the things we need to exhale from our bodies. Deep sigh. Let it go. You Cannot Control: What others think of you. What others say and do. The beliefs and perceptions of others. The past. The future. External situations and what happens around you. Other people's motives How others feel While it can feel frustrating to feel powerless over the above items, it's really important to define them so that you can move forward. Trying to change things you cannot change creates unnecessary stress which can reduce your quality of life exponentially. Here's what you CAN control. These are things you can address with skill building, mindfulness, and your effort. These are the pathways to feeling empowered, hopeful, and joyful. Deep exhale and find your smile...you've got this! You Can Control: Your narratives. These are the stories we tell ourselves. We can choose our narratives. When we notice ourselves delving into negativity, we can choose to change that narrative, reaching for the positive. This practice is life changing. How you interact with others in relationship. The way we behave is something we can personally address, and we can build skills to improve the way we interact with those around us. The ways in which you enjoy staying healthy. Your emotions. Sometimes emotions seem out of our control. In truth, we can take mindful steps toward balancing them. Sleep, diet, exercise, social groups, therapeutic interventions and behavioral activation are all things that are actionable and within our grasp to be empowered within. Your productivity and your activities. How you spend your free time. What you eat and drink. Your inner peace. The ways you choose to enjoy life. The choice to have a positive attitude. Can you think of other ways to empower yourself and those around you? No matter what you enjoy, at Western, we support your individual path toward wellbeing. You are worthy!

  • Brain & Body- Supporting Wellbeing

    When we consider our mental wellbeing, it's important to understand that the brain and the body are integrally connected. Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together to calm the body and the brain when we take intentional actions to support them. Taking mindful action promotes wellbeing, lifting the mood and promoting a lifestyle that offers increased energy, inner peace, and optimized opportunities for happiness. The following action steps can be taken in collaboration with your mental healthcare team to support optimal wellbeing as you take steps with your caregiver to heal. * Get moving! Bilateral movement (any movement that requires the use of both sides of your body) Think walking, running, hiking, dancing, tapping, tai chi, HIIT, yoga or dynamic stretching. * Spend time in nature. We are so lucky in Montana to have an abundance of wildness around us. Take advantage of that grace. * Meditation, prayer, or simply turning to a place of inspired hope within the universe. *Journaling in the direction of gratitude. List the good things that are happening in your life. * REST! Everyone needs rest. Studies indicate that good sleep habits are paramount to wellness. * Drink half your body weight in water each day. That might sound like a lot for some, but that's the goal! Many of us live life chronically dehydrated. Start with a sip of water infused with fresh fruit at the top of each hour. As your body gets used to getting enough water, you'll find yourself reaching for your water bottle more often. * Learn to say "No". You can't be everything to everyone. It's okay to have limits. * Self massage. It's good for your immune system, good for your muscles, good for your mood. *Reach out to your therapist. Processing your thoughts and moving in a positive direction can be enhanced by the therapeutic relationship. Mental wellness can be proactive, and self-directed. You don't have to wait for warning signs to get support.

  • Cooperative Relationships in Ravalli

    With a regional shortage of LAC's, WMMHC in Hamilton works with steadfast devotion for our Ravalli County community members who struggle with addictions that have led them into the cycle of imprisonment. Our steadfast team has worked hard to ensure that Western continues to develop respected relationships within Ravalli County to ensure CD evaluations for inmates are completed in a timely manner. With the dynamic support of Ravalli County Public Defenders, WMMHC sees to it that they are awarded opportunities to get into treatment instead of languishing in jail without support. While it's important to hold people accountable for the crimes they have committed, the reality is that most people in jail are there for addictions issues and mental health problems, but it's mostly addiction. We know that substance misuse treatment is so important if those in the cycle of jail-time are to ever have a chance breaking the cycle and realizing their potential and hope for positive connections within the community. At WMMHC, we believe those individuals struggling with substance abuse deserve to have a chance for success. Western has a longstanding cooperative relationship between Ravalli County jails and their detention center, ensuring that the WMMHC team can have a close working relationship with lawyers to get inmates the help they need and deserve. This collaboration keeps individuals facing addiction out of jail, and instead provides life changing support. When treatment is complete, those who are ready are bolstered with ongoing surround services provided by our outstanding MACT team members. We are so proud of our Western teams for putting in the effort each day to care for our community. We know they strive to reach deep, going above and beyond to serve our communities across Western Montana. It's the Western way!

  • Enoughness

    What does it mean to be "enough"? Can we feel it in our body? Is it felt deep within the belly? Maybe it's a stable rhythm within the heart? When have we achieved a state of enoughness? Is it arrogant or narcissistic to feel satisfied with who we inherently are, right now? We live in a time wherein declaring enoughness is the cry of the broken, healing warrior. We are confronted daily with terms like, "Imposter Syndrome", with unprecedented levels of cultural anxiety, and depression at younger ages than ever identified before. We are doubtful of our personal worth in a society where measuring worth is coupled with disparity in wage and equity, along with loss of connection or stability as we grope to rediscover what it means to grow back a culture after worldwide pandemic closures and unprecedented loss. So many have lost so much, even as they continue to battle through with uncoupled bravery. As we lean into the hard question of self-worth, let's remember that self-doubt is learned. It isn't innate to be born with self-doubt. We are taught to doubt ourselves. We can also unlearn that wound. Our brains believe what we tell them. If we send a barrage of negative self-talk to our nervous system, we are literally harming ourselves. Being kind to the self, acknowledging our gifts one at a time, is the healing balm that corrects the damage. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You...are enough. Say it over and over again with your hand resting on your heart, allowing your breath to slowly exit your lungs. You deserve to hear it, because it's true. When we settle into understanding that we are innately worthy of being seen by the self as enough, we also give voice to the fact that those around us are enough, too. As we heal the self, we heal others-offering a new kind of freedom that so many are longing for. You are enough. WE are enough. Isn't it wonderful to know that?

  • Roots

    Transforming care begins with understanding the unique needs of our Western Montanan community. With an abundance of culture and a steadfast commitment to resilience, we're proud to call this beautiful place home. After all, we're Montana! We have an abundant root system that digs deeply into Indigenous history. We boast one of the largest populations of Indigenous inhabitants within the United States, and we walk hand in hand with our neighbors; people with hearts as big as the Grizzley's that roam the mountains and valleys throughout our region. Our commitment to our people--ALL of our people, is fierce. We're proud of our dedication to cultural competence, to healthy community systems, to evidence-based care, and to moving into the future with cutting-edge techniques and programs proven to make a difference. We dig deep into the soil supporting the roots of our community, we nourish the trunks of our family forests, and we celebrate branches holding the fruit of tomorrow. We know the face of Montana is an ever-evolving picture and we celebrate ongoing opportunities for growth. As we move forward together, we are prioritizing the cultivation of steadfast stewardship, because we know that recovery is possible, and prevention is abundantly worthwhile. Supporting Wellbeing with science, education, and heart--It's the Western Way!

  • Community Players

    Everyone knows a pot-luck dinner is better with more than one cook in the kitchen! Potlucks offer abundance, diversity, and a vast selection of culinary mastery--with the occasional marshmallow aspic that everyone avoids (except that one kid who only eats marshmallow aspic and nothing else--we've all met a kid like that). Luckily, our Western Montana Communities are skilled at working together to supply an abundance of options, so that no sole organization has to provide everything on their own. We're in partnerships to be proud of and are happy to refer our clients in the direction that works best for their needs. Having solid connections is key to meaningful referrals, and you can be sure we've got the tools to support your journey and to make sure that a lunch of marshmallow aspic isn't where you are headed, unless, of course, you happen to be that kid we mentioned earlier...and that's your jam. We will always strive to support you regardless of what's on your plate. Working together with a smile--It's the Western Way!

  • WMMHC- A Place to Belong

    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion= Safe Spaces. With dedication to ensuring excellence in care for Western Montana, we are proud to say our staff receives regular Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training opportunities to support ongoing cultural competence. This commitment ensures our richly diverse populations are receiving care from professionals who understand their needs from an educated perspective tailored for the lives of Montana's real-time demographics. With dedication and attention, we're making sure Western Montana Mental Health Care provides safe spaces for everyone who lives here. Belonging--It's the Western way!

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